Monday, May 16, 2011
I did a longer write-up about the race for the Salsa Blog and it should be up in a few days, but I wanted to post a short version here also.
I traveled with Angry Andy down to Arkansas last Thursday Afternoon for NUE Series Race #2, the Syllamo 125 in Mountain View, AR. When we were flying in, I noticed that many of the farmers’ fields looked to be flooded, even though it wasn’t currently raining. After landing, we started the two hour drive from Little Rock to Mountain View. About twenty minutes outside of our destination, it started pouring down rain as hard as I have ever seen. The sight I had of the fields and the heavy rain that fell during our drive to Mountain View started to worry me a little about what the course conditions might be like.
I looked at the forecast earlier in the week and it was supposed to be dry on Friday and Saturday, but the skies were gray and heavy when I got up on Friday. It did end up raining a few times on Friday, but nothing as hard as on Thursday Night. Luckily, Andy and I were able to ride the first part of the yellow trail on Friday without having rain fall on us. Remarkably, the course was not as muddy as I expected it to be. There were definitely some muddy sections, but nothing too severe. The hardest thing about the course was getting use to the limestone on the trails know as “slickrock” to the locals. The slickrock was imbedded in the trails and riding over it was comparable to riding on ice. I was glad to find this out on my pre-ride rather than at race time.
Since a cold front blew-in the day before the race, the temperature at the start was only 50 degrees. By the way, I don’t know about you, but I am starting to wonder if I will be riding in cold and wet weather for the rest of year at this point. I mean really, enough is enough already. So, anyway, the race started and it was a fast start like all the NUE races seem to be. After riding for about a quarter mile on a paved road, we took a right up a steep fire road and climbed for about a mile until entering the endless single track. I was one of the top ten riders to enter the single track and I did not see any single speed racers around me.
Since I knew there was a bunch of technical riding ahead, I just kind of got into my own smooth pace. I rode with Andy, Eddie and Ernie for a short while, but eventually wound-up riding alone for about 4 hours or so. I would look back on the switchback climbs and would not see anybody. My race seem to be going very well, so I stuck to my smooth riding game plan through the technical stuff and would try to spin as fast as I could on the faster single track. After a little more than seven hours of riding, I ended-up taking the single speed victory by more than 30 minutes over second place.
Winning my second NUE Race of the season definitely made me happy, but riding the amazing trail network in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas was a true pleasure. I would definitely recommend riding these trails if you are ever in the area. The four loops of the yellow, blue, green and red trails when combined add up to one large 50 mile loop that offers a very nice variety of trails.
Happy Trails, Gerry